Blaming the alleged discrepancies on the Election Commission, BNP refused to accept the outcome of the polls and demanded for the resignation of Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda for they said was his failure to uphold fairness and execute an impartial election for the city corporation
Bringing an allegation of “unprecedented vote rigging” and various irregularities in Tuesday’s Khulna City Corporation polls, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has demanded reforms to the Election Commission as it “failed to hold the election in a fair and credible manner.”
Speaking at a press conference at BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office in Dhaka later in the day, he also said the polls would not have been marred by “massive irregularities” had the army been deployed at the polling stations.
"It can't be an election when opponents are restricted from casting their ballots and their polling agents are forced out of polling stations," BNP second-in-command was quoted by UNB as saying.
“No election can be held in a fair and credible manner under the present government as the entire electoral system has turned out to be a farce. The current Election Commission is in no way capable of working impartially. No election will be meaningful without a rigorous change in it."
He claimed the Khulna city election has justified their party's assertion that no fair election is possible without a nonpartisan administration in place.
Calling Khulna city a stronghold of BNP, Fakhrul said their party leaders and activists could not cast their votes due to the Election Commission's failures and attacks by police.
"Our leaders and activists couldn't go to the polling stations due to attacks by Awami League men and police. Cadres of the ruling party also obstructed common voters from going to the voting centres."
Returning Officer Yunus Ali said the voter turnout was 55-60%.
Casting doubts over the turnout, Fakhrul questioned “how 60% of votes were cast...while voters were not seen at polling stations after noon.”
The government controlled the media, mainly the electronic ones, to hush up election irregularities and vote rigging by Awami League men.
BNP rejects KCC polls results
quelaming the reported electoral frauds on the Election Commission, the party rejected the polls outcomes and demanded Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda resign for what it said is his inability to hold a fair and impartial election to the city corporation.
"I, on behalf of our party, reject the results of Khulna City Corporation election," BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said while briefing journalists at the party’s Nayapaltan central office on Wednesday.
“The current 'illegal' government has exerted its illegal powers to snatch people's voting rights in the polls,” he alleged.
"It can never be a fair, free electoral system the way supporters of paddy sheaves [BNP's electoral symbol] were subjected to harassment and obstruction at polling stations. Supporters of boat [ruling Awami League’s electoral symbol] exercised muscle power to rig votes.”
He alleged that the ruling party men cast fake votes dividing different groups at many polling stations, while the presiding officers helped them cast votes unilaterally and stuff ballots.
The BNP standing committee member also accused Awami League men of stuffing ballot boxes with fake votes in many polling centres.
“But on-duty magistrates overlooked the matters.”
Echoing party secretary general Fakhrul, Rizvi said: “The turnout was very thin. It could be less than 30%. Voters couldn't go to most polling stations due to attacks and barriers by armed cadres of the ruling party.”
He alleged: “The Election Commission does not have any good intention or the ability to conduct a fair and impartial election. That's why people witnessed an unprecedented ‘festival’ of vote rigging in the polls."
The election was held on Tuesday amid reports of various irregularities.
Awami League-backed mayoral candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque won the polls, defeating his closest rival BNP candidate Nazrul Islam Manju by over 68,000 votes.